Criminal Lawyers in San Diego providing Embezzlement Defense representation
Embezzlement, which is also known as theft from an employer, is a very common case to defend in San Diego County. This is generally when someone is working for an employer in any capacity and they take money or goods from that employer without their permission, with intent to permanently deprive that employer. If you have been charged with embezzlement you need the best possible embezzlement defense attorney on your side. The most common situations for embezzlement are as follows.
Example #1: An employee works at a painting store. He has worked there for a while but money is tight and he does not think he is making what he deserves to make. This now has caused him to steal from the company. Every day when the employee cashes out they are supposed to take the cash to the safe and deposit it into the safe. Each day at that point the employee gets out of the camera’s view and puts one hundred dollars in his pocket and then goes home.
Example #2: John works for a toy store. He decides that he needs more money so comes up with an idea where he is going to generate fraudulent returns. This is a common situation when someone is charged with embezzlement. There are transactions that occurred before under a fake name and then at a later time the employee comes in and claims that it is a cash refund on the return. Instead of giving the cash to the fake customer, which does not exist, they take the cash for themselves and hope that no one will find out. This is a complicated embezzlement situation but a criminal attorney in San Diego who has dealt with this case before can easily have a plan together to put the best possible defense forward.
Example #3: An employee works for the government and they are in charge of payroll. The government pays them more for their additional overtime hours they worked as mandated by law. The person in charge of payroll is able to change the hours little by little so it seems like they are making more than they actually did. They change the hours on a couple pay sheets, they get the money and then at some point they decide to stop. In this situation it is likely that they committed embezzlement.
Elements to prove Embezzlement
In the California Penal Code, embezzlement falls under PC 503 and there are certain elements that need to be met in order for the prosecution to prove their case.
1) A business relationship must have existed between the two parties and that relationship must have included elements of trust and confidence.
2) The defendant accepted property entrusted by the victim.
3) The defendant took that property or converted that property into his or her own.
The explanation behind these elements is actually pretty simple. To meet element 1, it is generally just the simplest relationship of an employee working for an employer, often in the retail setting. However, we have seen cases where accountants are the ones committing the crimes or even just simple business partnerships where two partners are involved in the business and one has embezzled goods.
Element 2 just means that one was given a key, given access to the books, or given access to the register, this is able to satisfy the element of trust. The last element is the actual taking of goods with intent to permanently deprive. It is pretty clear when this occurs because the goods or merchandise is no longer there. If an employee was at work and they put $100 in their pocket during the shift and then put it back in the register by the end of their shift, it would likely not be seen as embezzlement. The reason is because while they were working, they were essentially in possession and trusted with those actual goods or with money.
Best Defenses to Embezzlement
The two best defenses to embezzlement are mistaken identity and right of ownership.
Mistaken identity just means that you were not the person that took the money or the good. Or, even if you were the person who took the money or the goods, the prosecution is going to have a tough time proving it. Ozols Law Firm recently dealt with a case of a bank employee who had a key to the ATM. The problem was, the bank had a bad system of keeping track and logging in who had the key at what times. There were also several other bank employees who could have committed the theft. When it came down to it, the prosecution did not feel they were able to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt and ended up dismissing the case.
Right of Ownership
It is possible in certain situations that someone taking money from a business or from a partner could potentially have a right of ownership in that money. For example, if a retail employee $100 short on their paycheck and they later took $100 from the business, they may have a valid defense. If a business partner was owed $1000 from the other partner and took that out of a transactional fee they did together, once again, they may have a valid defense.
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Embezzlement is something that can be very serious and is something you do not want on your record. Any employer who sees an embezzlement charge will immediately look down on you and not want to hire you because of that. No matter how impressive your resume may be, they will always hold that against you. You need to hire a San Diego embezzlement defense lawyer to protect your life and to protect your future.